All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

228

Ron Carter: Dear Miles,

Chris M. Slawecki By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Ron Carter: Dear Miles,

Even considering Ron Carter, the bassist who rode through many mercurial musical styles, albums, and personas with Davis through the 1960s and '70s, with admitted skepticism, the question is asked: What kind of message to the late, great Miles Davis could Dear Miles be without a trumpet or other horn player in the ensemble?

It features all the glorious power and articulation of Carter's legendary upright bass as he leads drummer Payton Crossley, percussionist Roger Squitero and pianist Stephen Scott through a program of standards that Davis' singular interpretations made uniquely his own. This includes Gil Evans' "Gone" and Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove," and also "My Funny Valentine," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Stella by Starlight" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." In fact, Davis' only songwriting credit here is "Seven Steps to Heaven," which he co-composed with Victor Feldman, while Carter contributes two tunes, "Cut and Paste" and the concluding "595."

Obviously a major relegation of musical labor takes place, as Carter and Squitero pick up the supporting harmonic and melodic roles generally played by Scott, and the pianist picks up most of the work on the melodic and improvisational front lines. Only a musician and bandleader as inventive, sensitive, and courageous as Ron Carter could make such a tribute work, while Scott proves worthy of Carter's confidence that he could carry so much melodic weight.

"My Funny Valentine" offers a true test of this ensemble and project, as it was an enduring Davis favorite perfect for his moody brooding. Scott does what Davis would do (and did): Caressing the melody in different places, exploring various pressure points, pulling in new connections (like Scott's quotes from "When I Fall in Love"), all to coax and create new beauty from within "standard" music. "Stella by Starlight," sketches the melody on as a framework around Carter's bass solo; where Scott catwalks through a similarly pensive mood.

Carter just takes the hell off and runs with "Bag's Groove," as his walking solo quickly breaks from a walk, into a trot, into a gallop, and then a sprint. He then downshifts into the accompanying background and allows Scott's piano to swing through "Someday My Prince Will Come," which swings fat and funky as a classic Wynton Kelly performance. In "Bye Bye Blackbird," Scott first plays the chords and melody one tone darker, just like Miles would mute to temper his trumpet notes; but as his unfettered lead lines dark and flutter, Scott seems to shine as brightly as Red Garland.

It took several passes through, before beginning to understand, that Carter and company are not doing Miles Davis' versions of these songs; they're doing their own versions "in honor of" Miles Davis' versions of these songs. So it's okay that there's no horn player on Dear Miles. Miles broke a rule or two in his day, too.


Track Listing: Gone; Seven Steps to Heaven; My Funny Valentine; Bag's Groove; Someday My Prince Will Come; Cut and Paste; Stella by Starlight; As Time Goes By; Bye Bye Blackbird; 595.

Personnel: Ron Carter: bass; Stephen Scott: piano; Payton Crossley: drums; Roger Squitero: percussion.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
Book Reviews
Read more articles
My Personal Songbook
My Personal Songbook
In + Out Records
2015
buy
All Blues
All Blues
CTI Masterworks
2011
buy
Ron Carter's Great Big Band
Ron Carter's Great...
Sunnyside Records
2011
buy
[no cover]
Jazz & Bossa

2008
buy
Dear Miles,
Dear Miles,
Blue Note Records
2007
buy
Dear Miles
Dear Miles
Blue Note Records
2007
buy
Jaco Pastorius Jaco Pastorius
bass, electric
Bill Evans Bill Evans
piano
Chick Corea Chick Corea
piano
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Freddie Hubbard Freddie Hubbard
trumpet
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
saxophone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.